California Signs (page 16)

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El Capitan Hotel
Merced, CA


The El Capitan Hotel was first built on 16th Street in 1872. It moved to its current location in 1911 and expanded in 1924. There was a rooftop scaffold sign at that time. After a fire in 1931, the hotel was "reconstructed" around 1936. The projecting sign may have been installed then. It was there by the 1940s. By 2019, the signs were in storage at CNI Signs in Fresno, CA while the building was completely rebuilt. In 2020, the projecting sign was reinstalled. I believe the "Entrance" sign and the metal entrance signs were not reinstalled. They may still be at CNI. A new vertical sign which is lit with LED rope tubing was also installed in 2020. It is supposedly a replica of a sign that was on the building in the 1920s. However, I have not found any vintage photos to support that. In the 1920s, there were painted vertical signs on the sides of the building reading "Hotel El Capitan." For more, see this website. [map]

California Motel
Merced, CA
Slumber Motel [gone]
Merced, CA
The California Motel sign is probably from the 1940s. At some point, the sign was raised up on much taller poles. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3. [map]

The Slumber Motel sign was probably from the 1950s or 1960s. The atomic feature on top of the sign may have been outlined with neon originally. The sign was removed by a collector in 2023.

Branding Iron
Merced, CA
The Branding Iron restaurant opened in 1952. There were also locations in San Jose and San Leandro which are gone now. This animated sign was built then by Merced Neon. The cowboy's lasso moves back and forth and encircles the restaurant's name. The brands at the top and bottom of the sign flash on and off. The sign is about ten feet wide. In 1987, the restaurant was damaged by fire and closed. A new owner reopened the place the following year. In order to restore the sign and keep it animated, the sign was designated a historical landmark by the City in 1988. Around 2004, heavy winds destroyed about 95 percent of the neon. The tubing was replaced and the sign was repainted soon after that. For more, see this website. [map]

Merced, CA


This 7-Up sign is probably from the 1940s. The sign was restored in 2011. For more see this website. [map]

There are two other old 7-Up billboard signs in Fresno, CA and one in Bakersfield, CA. There were two others in Portland, OR (1 and 2).

Rice Bowl
Merced, CA
Yosemite U Save Liquor
Merced, CA
Mirabel Springs Rancho
Middletown, CA
The Rice Bowl was a Chinese restaurant. This sign is probably from the 1950s. It closed around 2010. Since around 2012, the building has housed the New Thai Cuisine restaurant. The Rice Bowl sign remains. For more, see this website. [map]

The Yosemite U Save Liquor store was built as part of the U Save Liquor chain. There are similar signs at other Northern California locations in Fresno, Redwood City, and elsewhere. For more, see this website. [map]

The Mirabel Springs Rancho motel was built around 1949. It now houses an antiques store. This sign remains. [map]

More Merced:
Century Bowl [gone]

Shaw's Candy &
Ice Cream Parlor [gone]
Millbrae, CA
2 a.m. Club
Mill Valley, CA
Goodman Building Supply
Mill Valley, CA
This Shaw's Candy & Ice Cream Parlor was part of a 50-store Bay Area chain. This location opened in 1947. This photo is from 2008. The store closed around 2010 and the sign is gone now. The first Shaw's Ice Cream opened in San Francisco in 1931. That is the only location left now. For more, see this website.

The 2 a.m. Club opened around 1940. This sign may be from then. For more, see this website. [map]

Goodman Building Supply opened in 1955. This sign is probably from then. For more, see this website. [map]

More Millbrae:
Millbrae Theatre

More Mill Valley:
Tamalpais Motel

Mineral Lodge
Mineral, CA
Gardens Resort
Miranda, CA
Bear Pit
Mission Hills, CA
Mission Hills Psychic [gone]
Mission Hills, CA
The Mineral Lodge sign appears to be from the 1960s. [map]

The Miranda Gardens Resort was built in 1929 as Pulscher's Motor Inn. In 1948, it was renamed the Miranda Gardens Resort. This sign is probably from then. For more, see this website. [map]

The Bear Pit started out as a small shack in Newhall, CA in the late 1940s. A few years later, the owner moved operations here. This sign is probably from the 1950s. For more, see this website. [map]

The Mission Hills Psychic sign was probably relatively recent. My guess would be 1960s or later. By 2022, the psychic was gone and so was this sign.

former Shakey's Pizza
To Go Kitchen [gone]
Modesto, CA
This former Shakey's Pizza to Go Kitchen sign looked much like this one originally. This was one of very few Shakey's Pizza Parlor's take-out locations. The top part of this sign with the lantern was removed when it was adapted for Luigi's Pizza around 2009. Around 2015, the sign was removed and replaced with a plastic box sign.

More Modesto:
Camera Center [gone]
Scenic Drive-in
Tires by Dayton [gone]
Welcome Arch

White's Motel [gone]

Oak Park Motel
Monrovia, CA
Equipment Rentals
Monrovia, CA
Copper Lamp Liquor & Deli
Monrovia, CA
Montebello, CA
Terraza Jamay
Montebello, CA
The Oak Park Motel's original sign featured a representation of a giant oak tree which was located on the property. This sign is probably from the 1950s. For more, see this website. [map]

Simon Equipment Rentals was established in Wichita, KS in 1946. This location opened in 1956 and the sign appears to be from then. For more, see this website. [map]

The Copper Lamp Liquor & Deli sign was built in 1955. [map]

The Airfan Engineering Company sign is installed on the building that now houses Performance Forged Products. I assume fans were or still are produced here. The sign was probably built in the 1950s. [map]

I believe the Terraza Jamay nightclub has been closed since around 2009. This sign is probably from the 1950s but I don't know if it advertised for something else originally. [map]

Taco King
Montebello, CA
Taco King
El Monte, CA
Pink Elephant
Monte Rio, CA
Gar-Duno's was established in 1941 and featured pastrami sandwiches. Mexican Food was added later and the chain became known as Gar-Duno's Taco King. These signs appear to be from the 1960s. The "Pastrami" portions of the signs were updated with "Taco King". The photo of the Montebello sign was taken in 2008. By 2012, the panels were replaced and the balls were replaced with flat round disks. The South San Gabriel, CA location is closed but the sign remains. [Montebello map]; [El Monte map]

The Pink Elephant opened in 1937. The bar closed in 2009. This sign was still there in 2016. For more, see this website. [map]

More Monte Rio:
Welcome sign

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Museum of
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